Soccer: Hopes for U-20 World Cup in NZ

By Paul Harper

Michael Glading. Photo / Getty Images
Michael Glading. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand Football is hoping to bring the sport's third biggest international event to this country - the FIFA Under-20 Men's World Cup in 2015.

The association's chief executive Michael Glading said an official declaration of interest in hosting the event had been placed with FIFA's headquarters in Zurich.

Mr Glading understood nine countries had expressed interest to FIFA to host the tournament, although said it was likely some may drop out.

FIFA is to make a decision on who will host the event in March.

New Zealand has previously hosted two other age-grade World Cups, the Under-17 Men's World Cup in 1999 and the Under-17 Women's World Cup in 2008.

"I would have thought [the fact] we have run successful events in the past would work for us. New Zealand being a peaceful country by world standards ... that would work for us."

Mr Glading said "up to seven or eight" cities could end up hosting games, but details such as where games would be played had not yet been determined.

On possibility is larger cities could host two of the six groups.

"The first thing is to get the bid and then we'll work through it."

Mr Glading said the country will have the stadiums to cater for the tournament, with stadiums across the country upgraded for next year's Rugby World Cup.

After the senior men's and women's World Cups, the Under-20 Men's World Cup is football's third biggest international tournament, he said.

Mr Glading could not yet say how many overseas fans the event would entice.

"We will be doing homework on that," he said. "Obviously with Under 20s event you would expect pretty big crowds.

"It is arguably the third biggest event [in international football], obviously the senior men's is the biggest and senior women's keeps growing - undoubtedly the next biggest is the men's under-20s."

The total attendance for the 2009 Under 20 World Cup in Egypt was 1,295,586, an average of 24915 each game. The 2007 tournament in Canada drew a total game attendance of 1,195,239, an average of 22985 each game.

"If you think of teams like Brazil or Argentina coming, there will be some big stars," he said.

Mr Glading did not think FIFA overlooking Australia for the 2022 men's World Cup would work in New Zealand's favour to be selected for 2015.

"I don't think that is relevant, he said.

"I think FIFA has generally had a strategy that age grade tournaments will go to countries that are lesser-weights.

"Long term, we have ambitions of hosting the senor women's at some point in time. This is the next step."

Meanwhile an announcement will be made tomorrow evening on who the All Whites will play in two away friendlies in March.

Mr Glading said he was bound by contractual obligations so could not disclose who the opposition were, however confirmed one was a "big country".

- NZ Herald

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